Monday, May 21, 2012

Have Fun With It!


Recently Shark Girl attended a seminar led by a prominent black belt. Black Belt taught some cool techniques that I have been trying to repeat with miserable results. But he said something that I have found much easier to implement, and something that rings true to me and my sense of jiu jitsu and the world.*
Black Belt said that in order to improve one’s jiu jitsu, the most important thing was to have fun with it. He described gyms where the “guys” were so competitive that every roll was a death match. Black Belt would return the next year to find the guys were still at the same level. Black Belt continued that, in order to improve, one has to “play” with jiu jitsu. Have fun with it, even if you risk being tapped.

Those guys in that fictional gym had not improved because they never gave themselves room. Improvement comes from creative experimentation, and creative experimentation leaves room for failure. If we are always rolling to submit, we can miss the opportunities for growth. It’s like Musclehead who chooses to smother me with side position because he knows he can’t afford to get in my guard. Sure, he’ll win. But he’ll never learn to pass my guard. Okay, so maybe he doesn’t need to learn to pass my guard; let’s face it, he can crush me. But he will never improve that aspect of his game. Ha-ha!
"I vill crush you like a little girl . . . oh, vait, you are a little girl! No matter. . . . "
 I’ve been taking Black Belt’s advice to heart. I’ve been rolling for fun, especially with players that are less experienced than me. I move for the submission, back off, let them roll me, reguard. I pick something to work depending on the skills of my partner and I don’t worry about all the other stuff. It’s a lot more fun for both of us. No one** wants to be sat on for four minutes writhing for breath. No one** wants to be submitted five times in a row. I say this from personal experience.
           
A little after this seminar, a colleague sent me “TheCreative Monopoly” by David Brooks. In it, he discusses the obsession we have with competition and winning and describes the connection between losing and creativity, and also how competition itself can hinder creativity. Check it out here.

Shark Girl urges you to go forth and have fun on the mats!
 
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* Shark Girl apologizes to Black Belt for not giving him credit by name. It would compromise my anonymity. Shark Girl consoles herself with the certainty that many people have used Black Belt’s words and techniques before and passed them off as their own. (Every gym has at least one prominent Jiu Jitsu Plagiarer—the dude who studies YouTube and then says he “came up with” a technique.) At least Shark Girl acknowledges that she was not the author of this brilliant nugget.

** Well, I’m sure there are some people who do. But those folks should probably troll Cragislist and backpage for like minded adults and steer away from the jiu jitsu mat. It just makes it creepy for all involved. (I’ve provided handy links for those of you right here. You’re welcome.)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

It's Official

I am going to Portugal this summer. If anyone knows of a school that wants a visit from SG, let me know. I can always bring my gi! It's getting away from the family that will be the hard part. . . .
Hmmm . . . Would I put my kid in the Douro River for jiu jitsu? Only time will tell.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Stick with What You Know


 Last year, Shark Girl marveled at how BJJ kept off her “winter coating.” This coating is more accurately called blubber, and it surrounds Shark Girl’s abdomen after the feeding frenzy of winter’s doldrums. This year, Shark Girl’s body has adjusted to jiu jitsu, and the blubber has returned. There it is right now, hanging over my pants.

Last week Shark Girl wondered to herself, “Is that a soft ripple in my shirt, or is it the overflow of my gut?” Then, very scientifically, Shark Girl pressed her finger to her shirt. It was gut.         

It is in this atmosphere, Gentle Reader, that I bring you the following story. I warn you that it is a rather sad testimony to the depths of my terrible eating habits and I hope that you will not think less of Shark Girl for it. Here goes:
           
In my disguise as Shark Teacher, I was conferencing with a student. It was during lunch so Shark Teacher apologized that I had to eat while working with her.
            “I hope you don’t mind . . . I’m eating salad. I’m trying to be good,” Shark Teacher confessed. (Student’s class is after lunch so she gets to hear all about my dietary transgressions.) Then we continued discussing really intellectual things.
            Suddenly, uh-oh! Some balsamic vinegar escaped down the wrong part of my throat and made a break for my lungs! Shark Teacher started coughing violently.
            “Ack! Ack!” I sputtered, interrupting Student in mid-discussion. “Please continue,” I croaked out.
            Student went on, but in all the excitement, a tiny piece of lettuce had made its way down my trach. In a fit of hacking, I excused myself for a drink of water and apologized to Student.
            “That’s what I get for trying to be healthy,” I opined.
            “Stick with what you know,” Student said. “Brownies and cake.”


I have heard some say that a white belt is about surviving and a blue belt is about figuring out your “game,” what works for you. As a newly-minted blue belt, then, my job is to find out what works for me and stick with it, improving and sharpening those skills that that suit me best. That student basically articulated my Big Blue Belt Goal. Nutritionally, however, I think I have to broaden my horizons. Especially if I want to melt off this undulating blubber. Can I start after I finish eating my sons’ birthday cake?

Shark Girl Faces a Change

It is a turning point for Shark Girl. I haven’t written in a while. When I was a white belt, everything was new and curious. And being ...